In about 15 years, roughly 78 million people in the United States will be over the age of 65. Unsurprisingly, this growth comes with challenges in addressing the increasing needs for human connection, financial wellness, daily living, and care for older adults.
Longer lifespans can also exhaust financial longevity leaving many at or below the poverty level. The need for assistance in daily life activities by one-third of older adults makes aging in place tricky. And finally, navigating a complex healthcare system and being met with constant caregiving staff shortages paves a path towards unfavorable health outcomes.
While many communities around the country are grappling with these issues, we’re fortunate to have a leader in this space in the Verde Valley. Verde Valley Caregivers Coalition (VVCC) provides accessible transportation programs, through volunteer services, to support adults in need of assistance to maintain their independence and quality of life at home.
However, they provide more than transportation—they facilitate compassionate connections and needed support services that include scribing during medical visits and assistance to in-home caregivers.
Due to their tireless commitment, the Foundation awarded a grant to fund their “Tapestry of Caring: Connecting High-Needs Neighbors with Health Care Access” initiative last year.
VVCC is now able to meet the growing demand for services through expanded staffing, volunteer recruitment and training, updated transportation software, and a reserve fund to address urgent financial needs.
In short, this grant supports VVCC’s base of more than 300 passionate volunteers in providing companionship, hope, and a better quality of life to the people they call their neighbors.
Volunteer Judy Fisher provides business help to Shirley, a VVCC neighbor.
Helping an isolated senior in need
Anita, 75, was living in isolation in a remote corner of the Verde Valley.
Phone calls to her by a concerned relative had gone unanswered, so he searched the Internet for help and discovered Verde Valley Caregivers Coalition. He asked that they check on Anita.
When Care Coordinator Laura Bambusch visited, Anita was in serious mental decline. She could no longer remember names, dates, or overdue bills. Her water had been turned off, she had no working phone, her banking card was lost, and she was living on ice cream and candy.
VVCC acted and provided transportation for Anita to the grocery store and to the bank. They paid Anita’s water bill, arranged to restore her water service, and helped pay her electric bill.
Laura arranged for a niece to visit Anita and assume Power of Attorney over her affairs. Laura also connected her niece with a local elder care advocate as a second point of contact. Laura helped arrange auto-pays for Anita so that her utility bills would not be forgotten again.
Because of these efforts to put a team in place for Anita, she now has caregivers in the home two days a week. The house is now immaculate and her bills are paid on time. Laura continues to visit Anita regularly and drive her to medical appointments and on errands. “After over a year of working with Anita,” Laura says, “she still never remembers my name, but is always delighted to see me. The feeling is mutual.”